''All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing'' - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol XI No 2

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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Another anniversary, another day to remind ourselves that 48 years ago the mother country became a part of the international community as a nation among nations in the wake of Africa's struggle for independence.

48 years on - was this the dream of the founding fathers of a truly independent Sierra Leone?Yes - we had stamps of this value

Apart from the usual speeches laden with insincerity and falsehood marking the day pouring from the lips of nation-wreckers at the helm of affairs, how patriotic and sincerely have the country's leaders served the people for whom independence was granted 48 years ago?

You do not have to be in the mother country to know that the usual facade of celebratory antics would be on the cards where only those in the know and close to the powers that be would wine, dine and dance on the tombs of the poor, the oppressed and those without the right connections even as their God-given resources are used to pour scorn on generations past and those yet to exist within the borders of the mother country.

Leaders have betrayed Sierra Leoneans to such an extent that quite a good number who were around at independence now seem to regret the attainment of this status as Sierra Leonean leaders became more uncaring, more deceitful and more dishonest in their quest for luxuries and wealth they could only have dreamt about.

It is not surprising to hear this generation expressing deep sorrow and regret at those who had emerged as political leaders and wishing that the British never went away or at least, the country was still a part of the apron string of the United Kingdom. They argue that this could have stopped the downward spiral of Sierra Leone.

At least that could have ensured the unity, freedom and justice that should have been the spirit and backbone - the spine of the new country as well as her guiding light.

But alas the lack of respect for these ideals plunged the mother country into a ten-year war, saw the manipulation of legal instruments for the repression of free speech and provided the channel for the state execution of fellow Sierra Leoneans who dared to question and to dissent against the rising tide of intolerance, nepotism, plunder and theft of state resources and a host of other ills that cropped up only after independence.

However the greatest threat to the integrity of the nation came from a new and malevolent quarter - sycophancy where those in power played god and expected to be regarded thus with any queries being raised regarded as "unpatriotic" while the "patriots" brought the mother country to her knees - an extremely rich but poor country.

Today and the days leading to our great day could have seen a number of activities ranging from so-called "dances" and "shows" to "dinners" thrown in - all a shameless attempt to obscure the truth about the agony of suffering Sierra Leoneans.

Focus on the motto - Unity, Freedom, Justice and put the spotlight on the justice issue and then can we truly appreciate just how governance had been turned on its head by the "educated and enlightened" to hold the poor and unconnected in perpetual servitude and underdevelopment.

On the website of the House of Parliament on the Sierra Leone Independence Act, 1961 there is a reminder thus

"Sierra Leone’s Independence was effected through the Sierra Leone (Constitution) Order in Council 1961 also designated the Sierra Leone Independence Act 1961.  .....Sierra Leone’s Independence Act 1961 was tailored on the Westminster-model of parliamentary democracy.  It was nearly a replica of the unwritten or non-written British Constitution in the form of a codified written document.  Many of its clauses were entrenched, inorder to safeguard the fundamental rights and democratic liberties of the citizens, Parliament, public institutions and public servants.  Also incorporated in the Independence Constitution were certain basic principles of  British Constitutional Conventions, namely the majority principle, the (two) party political system, the Cabinet system of government based on individual and collective responsibility, and the Independence of the Judiciary"

Note that last one - the independence of the judiciary and indeed up to today the country's constitution still states and recognises the independence of the judiciary but in practice this important arm of governance continues to be manipulated by successive leaders thus making the judiciary largely ineffective and used against the very people it was meant to protect - the downtrodden and unconnected.This was legal tender across English-speaking West Africa and the UK

The years have shown that what actually happened in real terms was a far cry from what had been envisaged in the spirit of the constitution as power hungry megalomaniacs who saw any questions raised about their kind of governance something that had to be snuffed out by whatever means. Judicial and extra-judicial as the situation demanded.

It is worth noting too that the constitution at independence had an opening that would allow for those found guilty by the courts of Sierra Leone and who could face the death penalty to have their court case reviewed by legal experts in the UK's Privy Council.

This apparently did not go down well with a vengeful Siaka Stevens who wanted to extract his pound of flesh for what he deemed as wrongs done to him and to ensure that opposition to his rule was as minimal as possible.

Many a reason could be given by apologists for having a constitution in 1971 that made the country a republic.

"This would mean that we are now truly independent and show that we can manage our own affairs without recourse to the former colonial masters", they bawled and preached and foamed with two tongues hissing back and forth.

However in reality, this was to pave the way for the execution of those who Stevens had all along wanted to get rid of but who could well have gone to the Privy Council as a court of last resort.

Siaka stevens would not have this blocking his path of using terror to intimidate the opposition in whatever form.

He therefore became the first leader of post-colonial Sierra Leone to sign the death warrant for fellow Sierra Leoneans on charges of treason with sentences carried out at Pademba Road prison on those he and his colleagues thought politically-expedient to get rid of permanently on planet Earth.

And so did the former Head of the Army one John Bangura, a man who practically offered Siaka Stevens the Premiership of Sierra Leone together with three others meet their appointment with the hangman's noose on June 29th 1971.

Thus did Sierra Leone witness the demise of the likes of the Taqis, Fornah's, Banguras and all those seen as threats to his government.

Chief Makari N'Silk Paramount Chief and traditional ruler of Makarigbanti was among the eight executed on 19th July 1975. He had to go to an early grave after his conviction on treason charges because, according to a member of the inner circle Siaka Stevens consigned him to the gallows because "he was disrespectful". Kindly note too that this great traditional ruler was a member of the then banned UDP, a breakaway APC party that had become too powerful and was threatening the very existence of the Stevens-led faction.The man who could have made our country beautiful....but wasted it all.

Apologists like E T Kamara who later became Secretary-General under the APC one-party demonic machine and who was paid a minister's salary, Sorsoh-Conteh, former ambassador to the Soviet Union as well as constitution manipulators like Solomon Pratt, N A P Buck, Abdulai Conteh and others in their various capacities and in their zeal to use the judiciary as a means to effect their political ends helped create a situation that still haunts the mother country.

The present occupier of the country's top political seat in campaigns across the country vowed that under his leadership, no elected MP would be made a minister of government and would ensure that for the proper administration of justice, strict adherence to the separation of the Judiciary, the Executive and the Legislature would be his forte. He again made this pledge as President!!!

More than a year on he has reneged on all these lofty ideals and gone back on his words.

What a President!!!!

Long live the land that we love - our one and only Sierra Leone and a prayer that one fine day, we would have people in authority who can dare put country first and self third.



Yearning for the mother country?

The right choice is Kevin McPhilips Travel

©Sierra Herald 2002